Colour your ideas

Last Updated 15 July 2010, 10:36 IST

When you set out to decorate your home, no one knows better than you that a personal touch can make all the difference. Of course, your curtains are of your selection as are your light fixtures, the furniture, almost everything right down to the door knobs.

But when you think of it, all of this has been just a choice amongst all the varieties that are made available in the market. So how, you may ask, can one bring about the personal touch? Painting is one such option. Oil paints and canvas are not the only things that can brighten up a home. Almost any surface today can be creatively enhanced with fabric paints or those meant to highlight a multitude of surfaces. You can paint on wood, flower pots, bamboo or cane and just about anything. All you need is a little time and a little imagination.

To begin with, how do you go about getting yourself a suitable design? Don’t restrict yourself. It may be a geometric design on a salwar kameez or the logo of your favourite product. You can even pick a small element in a large painting or a design that you have seen in an embroidery book. You may even take a fancy to something your child drew at school. Once you have the design you want, take it to the photocopier to get it to the size you want. If it is on a surface that you can’t take down, use tracing sheets, get the design and transfer it to a stronger paper.

Here are some tips to keep in mind. If you are painting on fabric make sure you wash and iron the fabric first.

This gets rid of any starch and enhances the fabric’s capacity to hold a colour fast and prevent it from bleeding. No matter what surface you paint on always transfer the design with tracing sheet. This keeps the original design intact. Irrespective of the surface, allow up to two days for it to dry before you put it up in the corner you have planned. For fabric, iron the design on the reverse side of the cloth before you use it as this seals in the painting.

Painting techniques
Painting is in two basic techniques – wet and dry. Wet is where you use the paint directly and in solid colours. For a more subtle effect use the dry method of painting. This looks especially good for flower based designs. Outline the flower in the wet style with a strong colour. Next dip your brush in the same paint and rub off the excess on a piece of cloth. Use gentle strokes to fill in the inside of the flower. This will give you softer look.
Here are some places in your home where you can introduce your own special touch.
The entrance

Most Indian homes have a toran decorating their front doors. Instead of going in for a ready-made one, get your tailor to stitch a plain one for you. Take out your fabric paints and let your imagination run wild. Use some of the pop up shiny shades of fabric paints available in tubes to give your design a three-dimensional effect. The advantage with such a toran is that it will look fresh and bright each and every day of the year.

The living room
The family room is one place where you completely relax. There are several nooks and corners that you can brighten up. Personalise your cushion covers and sofa backs. The same goes for the curtains as well as for your TV and DVD player covers. The options are limitless. Create themes that you can rotate. Start with an Egyptian theme. This will be a good chance to experiment with gold, silver and metallic blue shades. Your sofa backs can have Egyptian princes riding camels. Your coffee table cloths can have borders of sceptres, scarabs and other such motifs. Another time, you can come up with a completely Indian theme with the traditional mango and peacock patterns.
Have a few terracotta pots lying around? Apply a coat of varnish to them. When completely dry use some M-seal putty and fashion a motif that corresponds with your theme. Stick this to the surface of the pot and use the same colour shades in metallic versions.

The bedroom   
Here too the options are limitless. Subdued floral patterns will give your bedroom a fresh floral garden like atmosphere. Children’s bedrooms are the one place where the inspirations are never-ending. 

Run riot with bright colours on curtains, light fixtures and even on the roof of your child’s bedroom. The one point you have to keep in mind when it comes to bedrooms is to avoid painting the centre of pillow covers. Such your face comes in direct contact with the paint there are chances of hitherto unknown skin allergies coming out.

Kitchen and dining room
In your kitchen, you can choose your themes based on colours. Bright yellows look fabulous on fridge and toaster covers. Yellow kitchen window curtains with bright red sprigs of flowers too are great.  If your dining table is in clear view, then match your table cloth and napkins to the theme in the kitchen. Just to protect your table cloth from inevitable staining, place a transparent plastic sheet on top.

This makes cleaning very easy. If you have a separate table for children, have napkins and tablecloths with appropriate motifs. There are several ways in which you can further enhance your handiwork. Intersperse designs with sequins and tassels for cloth, beads and buttons for harder surfaces etc. The main idea is to enhance and not overdo it. Always keep aesthetics in mind when you are attempting any creative work with paints.

(Published 15 July 2010, 10:36 IST)

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